Friday, March 13, 2009

SAR #9072

How will a nation of fast food clerks support Wall Street?

Promises, Promises: Both Bank of America and Citigroup say they are in terrific shape and do not need further government handouts. Okay, then when do we get our money back?

More Straws: Pemex is going to drill 500 new wells into the Chicontepec oilfield to offset the depletion of Cantarell. Boosting production today at the cost of emptying the field that much faster is at best a short sighted plan. Mañana.

A Rose... Calling the biggest catastrophe civilization has ever encountered 'climate change' is like describing an invading army as 'unexpected guests.' From now on we'll call it "climate catastrophe."

Without Comment: The Republican Study Committee believes that eliminating mark-to-market rules would save the economy.

Stop the Music! Even though major lenders, including Fannie and Freddie, instituted programs to ameliorate the foreclosure tsunami, US foreclosures were up 30% in February.

Plan B: Acknowledging that we have put off reducing CO2 emissions far too long, climate scientists are now advising that governments begin planning to accommodate rising seas, growing droughts and a Pandora's boxful of problems that are no longer avoidable.

Indentured Servitude: The Fed, Treasury and 94.6% of the economic pundits keep claiming that getting the banks to extend credit will cure the crisis. Instead of thinking of it as saying the system needs more credit, think of it as saying the average American needs more debt. Really? My unemployed nephew who has $26,000 on credit cards needs more debt? Things that can't possibly work, won't.

May vs. Will: The US is afraid that another OPEC production cut will lead to prices for crude oil high enough to harm the economic recovery. What economic recovery? If the oil producers economies fail, so will the oil production system - and that will hurt the world's economy for certain.

Three Card Monte: Even giving away money can't lure investors into going along with TALF - the strange scheme to generate demand by bribing investors to con people farther into debt.

Read Their Lips: Is it really unconscionable that those making over $250,000 a year should pay 3% more in taxes than the lady behind the counter at the Grab and Run? That the rich who have capital gains (better known as unearned income) should be taxed at a rate a bit higher than that paid by the Walmart greeter?

Yes, But... Economists polled by Reuters cite a GDP drop of 5.3% in 1Q09 moderating to a 2% drop later in the year. Unemployment will reach 10% by year's end. But the analysts report that these "predictions are less reliable than usual."

Lie To Me: Banks and financial firms are suffering because they are not trusted. Changing mark-to-market rules will allow them to play more smoke and mirror games with assets, which will improve transparency how? Oh, it'll allow the Treasury to buy these corpses at higher prices. Right.

Good Hands Out: Close on the heels of AIG's blackmail note, the largest insurers say the government must give them hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to make up for their bad investments. Otherwise they'll not be able to finance corporations by buying iffy bonds. They want the same deal as TALF credit investors - no risk and 10 x leverage and all the profit they can haul in with both hands.

Six Months of Progress: After a couple of trillion dollars in bailouts, bribes and bullshit, we've gotten nowhere. Bank debt is as stressed today as when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were new news. Next in the barber's chair are the bondholders, as companies go under. Sounds more exciting if you read "bondholders" as "pension funds".

No Comment: Various cities and agencies in Los Angeles County are scheduled to receive more stimulus funds than they have 'shovel ready' projects for, so they were selling off the funding at a 35% discount.

Porn O'Graph: Stock prices and earnings, ye olde PE ratios.


AITrader said...

economic pundits keep claiming that getting the banks to extend credit will cure the crisis

Since we're turning to John Stewart for more than comedy these days though I'd parrot a bit of advice he handed out a few weeks ago.

Stewart noted (rightly IMO) that if the issue at the bottom of the derivatives stack is mortgages, then why don't we bailout the folks paying the mortgages directly?

Why don't we fertilize from the bottom, where it will fix the whole shebang, instead of shoveling more and more shit on top?

The Anecdotal Economist said...

Re: Indentured Servitude

Yes Wall Street's most dangerous words are "but this time it's different," but something is different according to the Fed's YE2008 Z.1 Flow of Funds:

In 2008, household debt grew only 0.4%, the smallest growth since the Fed began keeping track in 1945.
In the 4th Quarter, HH debt shrank at a 2.0% annual rate.

Likely in 2009, will be the first year, of many, in which HH debt declines, as consumer debt-slaves voluntarily repay what debt they can, or the debt is involuntarily removed via bankruptcy.

Which is why this is not your "garden variety" recession. It is a debt-deleveraging, deflationary depression, only things have not (yet) progressed to the ugly economic statistics of the 1930s.

Of course in the 1930s the U.S. didn't have Uncle China to make it all better...